While gadgets destroy health, Internet addiction a silent epidemic among Mumbaikars, say psychiatrists

Heavy use of gadgets can have a negative impact on a child’s behaviour, health and performance at school. Playing violent video games makes them more aggressive. Virtual communication reduces face to face communication and they become lonely and depressed.  The amount of time spent on their screens cause the blood vessels in their eyes to narrow

While gadgets destroy health, Internet addiction a silent epidemic among Mumbaikars, say psychiatrists
Image Source: Google

After being restricted from using all his gadgets for a month during exams, 12-year-old Aayush Kadam’s mother has a new worry. She complains that with the exams over, her son has gone back to his gadgets again, and which she admits, is a sign of an addiction.

“Nowadays, it is so difficult for parents, especially working parents, to keep their children away from technology. Aayush needs his tab and mobile in his hand to play games or chat with friends,” said Aayush’s mother, a Bandra resident.

Heavy use of gadgets can have a negative impact on a child’s behaviour, health and academic performance. Playing violent video games make them more aggressive. Virtual communication reduces face-to-face communication and they become lonely and depressed. Amount of time they spend staring at the screen causes the blood vessels in their eyes to narrow.

Experts suggest it is vital for parents to not introduce any gadget or technology to a child before two years of age as the brain develops rapidly during the first five years. The emphasis should be more on encouraging them to spend time outdoors.

Today, there is a wide range of gadgets like smartphones laptops, tablets, E-books, gaming consoles and desktops, which are available at a relatively cheap price. So, a number of people are indulging themselves with them and while some use them merely for entertainment, others use it for the purpose of work.

“I am a computer software engineer by profession, whether I wish or not, I have to look at the screen for more than eight hours, at times even 12 hours. It hurts my eyes bad and I often suffer from back and neck pain. But, I have no option. However, nowadays with easy access to the Internet and gadgets used by everyone from children to young adults, they are spending most of their time on mobile and tabs for no reason. They fail to realise it, but it affects health, especially eyes,” said 30-year-old Rahul Jain (name changed), Andheri resident.

Some city doctors say due to heavy use of electronics people weave themselves into the fabric of their lives so deeply that they create a silent epidemic i.e. Internet addiction. It’s an ailment that many urban Indians are afflicted with, because they have convinced themselves that they need to be connected all the time, they refuse to acknowledge its existence. This affects their academic performance, social behaviour, participation in sports, and family relationships.

“Children use electronic devices 3 to 4 hours daily.  WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, blogs have increased the strain on their eyes. The average person blinks 15 to 20 times in one minute, but people working in front of a screen blink 4 to 5 times in minute hence the cornea becomes dry and patients get discomfort. Burning of eyes, itching of eyes, blurring of vision, eye ache, headache, watering of eyes are the symptoms they begin to face,” said Dr Arjun Ahuja, Professor and Head of Department of Ophthalmology at KEM Hospital.

Dr Ahuja gives few tips to save the eyes:

  • To use lubricating drops 3 to 4 times daily.
  • Take a break of 5 minutes after every one hour
  • Use ultra-coated U V coated glasses to prevent eyestrain
  • Keep brightness and contrast low
  • Keep a distance of 14 inches from the eyes
  • In yoga it is believed that 60% of energy is used through eyes because of unnecessary things we see hence teach kids meditation, wherein you close your eyes and thus, conserves energy

Dr Avinash Desousa, Research Associate and Psychiatrist at LTMG Sion Hospital said they have observed that relying too much on digital gadgets have led to mental cognitive operations like mental maths, learning, concentration, ability to focus for a long time etc. to decline.

“People are multi-tasking with their phone which is leading to dip in concentration, ability to remember daily chores. They are unable to function without their smartphones,” said Desouza.

He added that school children using smartphones and other digital gadgets are hit the most.

“We are seeing low retention and poor memory levels in children. Parents should see to it that their child doesn’t get into smartphone addiction as it can affect their studies too,” said DeSousa.